Stop Shopping at Supermarkets and Save Money
Recently we have discovered that regular supermarkets are the most expensive places to go shopping. This certainly applies in Santiago de Chile, but I recall that we noticed the same thing last time travelling through other countries in Latin America. For somebody coming from Europe or North America this might be puzzling, and contradict all established routines.
Supermarkets here seem to use pricing models similar to those we know from Australian convenience stores, your quick stop around the corner to get the milk and bread you forgot. The medium sized supermarkets throughout this city offer similar convenience: you get almost everything in one place – but you pay for it! Though oftentimes the convenience is already lost by standing in a long line at the check out. On separate occasions each of us have left our full baskets behind because, after standing for over 15 minutes in a slow moving line, we had lost all patience.With groceries and other daily things being expensive, I take more notice of how much each item costs. We consider some “normal” things, like good cheese, Parmesan, real coffee (everybody drinks Nescafe), jam, mayonnaise, olives, and so on almost as luxuries, and buy them sparingly or in small quantities. Coffee only comes in 250 gram packs, so it’s not possible to save with a larger pack.
The bigger supermarkets, like Jumbo, can only be found outside Santiago Centro, so shopping there involves a return trip and Metro or bus fares. The savings aren’t that significant overall, but there is much more choice. Then, a few weeks ago, Yasha pointed out large market halls when we were passing by on a bus. They are walking distance from where we live right now, so one sunny day I went and checked them out. Initially I only looked for fruit and vegetables, because the selection at local supermarkets seems to be always small, expensive, not fresh and often of poor quality. What an eye opener the markets were!
Finally we got to eat meals we had dreamed of for weeks, because I was able to find different vegetables. And not only that, almost everything was half price or sometimes less. No wonder the market halls seem to be always busier than most supermarkets. Now I’m slowly discovering, that there are many other items I can get at the market halls for less than at the supermarkets – not everything, but the list is growing with every visit.
|Tomatoes, per kg||$890||$350-400|
|Apples, per kg||$600-900||$350-600|
|Bananas, per kg||$650-800||$350-400|
|Toilet Paper, per 4 Rolls||$1,699||$1,000|
|Soprole Butter 250g||$1,659||$1,250|
|Brie, per Kilogram
Superm.: Chilean, Market: French
|Cream Cheese, Pack of 227g||$1,899-2,299||$990|
Our second discovery to save money is a discounter called Mayorista 10 which I found on my way home from the markets. It looks a bit like a mixture between ALDI in Europe and the now closed Franklins in Australia: a very limited selection, a bit disorderly, and most things are put onto the shelves in cardboard boxes.
They tend to sell brand products, but not a wide variety, and what’s on offer seems to change depending what they can buy for a discount price. But many savings can be significant, particularly since they offer stepped pricing on many things! You buy one, you pay x amount, you buy 3 or 4 (depending what item it is) and the price is lower, you buy 6 or 12 and the price goes down again. I found with wine and yoghurt, both things we consume almost daily, I can quickly save the equivalent of a cup of coffee or our daily bread and butter.
|Paper Tissues, 6-pack||$919||$590|
|Lady’s Hygiene Pads||$1,649||$590|
|Yoghurt Griego w. Fruit||$309||buy 4@ $269|
|Halls Peppermint||$300||buy 12@ $175|
|Wine Leon Tarapaca||$1,799||buy 3@ $1,579|
You start to feel better about the extra running around once you realise that alongside the savings you are supporting small local business owners by shopping at the markets, whereas almost all supermarkets here are part of three big corporations: the US-owned Walmart, along with Cencosud and Falabella, which are both nearly Chilean equivalents to Walmart.
Tell us (in the comments below): where do you prefer to shop?
Do you agree that supermarkets are not the best option to buy everything?